Surviving Genocide

January 2, 2010
The sky was going to fall.
I could just feel it as I ran for my life under the puffy gray clouds, waiting for the end of my world. I was in an isolated forest, sprinting with all my might from the unknown killers chasing behind me. I tripped on an unnoticed twig on the ground, and the realization that I might be the last of my kind left in this world hit me in the face like a punch. Tears welled up in my eyes, but I bit my lip, forcing them back down once again, forcing myself to forget about my dead family members for what seemed like the fiftieth time that day. No. Crying wouldn't help me at all in a situation like this. In fact, it would just slow me down, and I was desperately running from death.
A couple dozen yards behind, I heard the occasional snaps of twigs that indicated that the chasers were still within listening distance of me. Panicking, I picked up my pace. It was the Salem Witch Hunt all over again. Except this time, I was the witch. I was the one that would be burned at the stake. No, I thought, and I kept running. Running, running, running. My destination was still a mystery to me. Where was I running to? How long would I have to keep running until I was safe? When could I ever stop? It seemed like never.

My legs were on fire. I felt like collapsing right then and there, but I knew that I had to keep going. I couldn't let down my family and friends who had died to keep me alive.

When I felt that I could not run any longer, I at last spotted a cave up ahead. Relief filled my body as I gradually slowed down. I was saved.

Why? I asked myself as I stared into the cold, damp cavern. Why did I have to be driven so low? Why were people so cruel to Hassani Indians? Why couldn't our tribe just live in peace, be a part of the society? Why, why, why? As I sat there, arms wrapped around my legs, huddled in a corner, shivering violently, I began to cry. The tears flowed down like rivers, and I knew that I could not control them any longer. I finally let go.

When my eyes were drained of my last drop of tears, I stood up uncomfortably, realizing that I was starving. All that crying had made me forget my hunger. If only I had someone from the tribe here with me, I thought. That was really all I needed. I hated being alone, I hated being in danger by myself, and I felt vulnerable and unsafe at all times. I just wished- I just wished that there was still a tiny bit of hope left. Before my people were wiped out just like the Arawaks.

I sighed in defeat, knowing that I was all alone; I was going to have to find a way to survive all by myself. Cautiously and silently, I neared the entrance of the cave. Hopefully my pursuers had given up and left. I prayed silently, mouthing each word. My lips barely touched, but I could feel the rough dryness of them. Water. Water and food. I needed something to fill my empty stomach.

I stared at the layers and layers of trees in front of me, outside my safe haven. The mob of chasers seemed to have disappeared. I let out a mouthful of air. I'd finally lost them.

At that moment, I felt my sensitive stomach growl, reminding me of a new problem. What could I find for food in a place like this? Leaves? Grass? Or worse, insects? I shuddered, trying to erase my previous thoughts. If my mother was here, she'd instruct me to do something useful. She'd have the knowledge to help me find the food that I needed. But even more, I'd be with her. I'd have her familiarity.

I looked out into the woods. This was the wilderness; I'd spent my whole life living in environments like this, watching the adults hunt for rabbits and gather nuts. I should be able to endure this. But then, there was a different problem here. I was constantly in danger.

I let out a breath of air that I realized I'd held all that time. I wasn't going to allow myself to starve to death just because I was too afraid to take a risk and care for myself. Finally, I took a step out, my whole body tense. I decided that since the weather was so cold, my first step was to build a fire. I bent down and placed one finger on a stray sprig nearby. It was still damp. There was no way that a fire could be started with wet wood. I crawled about, searching for any dry twigs underneath the wet ones.

Suddenly, I heard the crunch of leaves behind me. I immediately snapped my head around. Nothing. Paralyzed, I shivered violently. I took deep breaths, trying to calm myself. It might have just been a squirrel.

Comforting myself made me feel better, and I returned to my search for fire wood. After I'd gathered a decent pile, I decided that it was enough to start the fire. I bundled up the wood and hurried off toward the direction of the cave that I would have to start calling home for the next few days.

As I came close to the entrance, I suddenly heard a loud rustle of leaves behind me that only someone with a lot of body mass could create. This time I knew it wasn't just a squirrel. Abruptly I turned around and saw him. There was a figure of a man behind a large oak tree. Shaking, I realized that this could be the end. They'd finally caught me.

The man took one step toward me, showing his kind, dark face, and I recognized him at once. My relief was then replaced by happiness. I was overwhelmed with emotion as I ran toward his open arms with a big grin on my face.


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